Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Three Neighborhood Sales in Decatur 4/17/09

Today I visited a trio of neighborhood sales all within the confines of the city of Decatur. For those outside Atlanta, Decatur has become the place of choice of families who want to live close in but don’t want to deal with Atlanta politics and services. Their school as good, their taxes high and now everyone seems to have children and lots of toys for them to play with. I should also note that Decatur has a yard sale ordinance that is actually enforced. I believe people are only allowed two yard sales a year and sign placement is limited and closely monitored. Technically you have to get a permit for a sale. With this in mind much of the sales in the city limits are covered in yearly neighborhood sales, the kind happening today in three different neighborhoods.

Wynonna Park – Neighborhood Sale
Wynonna Park is not named after the Naomi’s daughter but after the fine elementary school that brought people to this once forgotten, tree shaded neighborhood of brick bungalows. In this cozy community the sales worked as a social event as well as a clutter clearance for residents. Among the stuff put out in the lawns were artwork, paper mache creations, bicycles, wedding gowns, children’s books and barware. Among some of the better single items on display were a large gnome figure that appeared to emerging from a hole in the ground, clear plastic bags stuffed with knitting yarn, a children’s boot camp play set (in which the soldiers were shooting at each other in basic training), a remote controlled large plastic insect and some scaffolding.

Well placed sign in Wynonna Park

Emerging troll.

Ridley Scott “Neighborhood sale

OK the neighborhood is not really called Ridley Scott. But the intersection where most people enter the area is the intersection of Ridley Cir. and Scott Blvd.. I’d like to propose that neighbors here go for this name and then change street names to match. Then create such streets as Thelma Drive, Louise Road, Alien Ave and Blade Run. They could even get a condo development called “Black Hawk Downs.”
I think this would immediately up property values far better than the Ponderosa subdivision did when they had all the streets named after characters in Bonanza.
Anyway this was the second go around for a neighborhood sale here this year. A few months ago when the weather was not conductive to sales they attempted a neighborhood event with lax results. Today’s event was much more successful with nearly twice as many sales. The dominant sale here featured a massive amount of old clutter crowded into the driveway of a brick ranch home. Here a portly man in a brightly colored sombrero walked among the clutter extolling its virtues. At the top end of the driveway was a large dumpster perhaps where all the stuff would end up if he did not sell it today. Among the stuff in his driveway was a pair of matching ugly recliners, several dozen dusty baskets, a pair of crude looking Indian tom toms, a box of car litterbags advertising the election of Carl Sanders, some old home health care items, crutches, a lightning rod, mismatched end tables, massive candles, decrepit Xmas d├ęcor, old board games and an empty gumball machine.
Other sales in the neighborhood had the usual amount of large toys. One near the driveway of clutter I just described had toys with a military bent including two large plastic warplanes with wingspans exceeding three feet and a box labeled stuff filled with aggressive looking action figures. Overall this neighborhood appears to be the weak stepchild of Decatur areas and may well need the name change I suggested.

Pair of matching recliners.

Manly toys for boys.

Great Lakes – Neighborhood Sale

With a name like Great lakes you can’t go wrong as this is perhaps the premier neighborhood of the Decatur. First of all there are no Ontario or Erie streets in this area, but there is a Champlain and a Geneva. Perhaps those names have more prestige than the two eastern Great Lakes. Regardless this is the portion of Decatur that never faced gentrification because the values here never dropped not even at the peak of suburban growth in the 1960’s Here today was the mother lode of sales with over 50 homes included. I didn’t count them all but that’s what the signs said. Here the toys are bigger, the lawns better kept and a high level of walkers and cyclist with so many sales close to one another. But sadly with the high numbers the quality of individual sales was not good. I think here in Great Lakes residents feel obligated to participate in this event regardless of if they have stuff they need to divest themselves off.
My favorite stop on the sale route was a woman who had her crewelwork from 20 year as ago on sale. I told her that soft sculpture was coming back into vogue but she doubted her work would ever be in vogue. There was a wider range in clutter than I expected in the upscale neighborhood. One Sale seemed to have nothing but older dejected junk including comptometers and weighty electric adding machines. They also had some dour locking furniture a cheap old portable victrola and a sign behind it all that proclaimed “Will negotiate on everything”. Some sales were repeats from prior years. I was happy to encounter once again the delightful gentleman who makes clever signs on every single item in this sale. Not far away pointing in the wrong direction from this sale was one of the best children made signs I have encountered. This one simply said “YRDE Sale” . An adult watching over a nearby sale said, “You gotta love phonics”

Sign in Great Lakes.

It's a crewel world.

Old stuff in Great Lakes.

Nagel and Rainbow Fish together at last.

Ridgewood Ave - Lake Claire “Yard Sale”

I stopped at this small sale on the way home. Here I found the ultimate in determination on the part of a yard seller. A few nights earlier during a bad windstorm a massive oak tree had toppled over and demolished their garage and the car inside it. Their solution to this household tragedy? Have a yard sale. Here the mighty fallen oak was used as shelving and as a display area for clothing, towels and bedclothes. One of the best responses to major property damage I have ever seen.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday 4/11/09

I did not expect to encounter any sales with today being Easter Saturday. There was nothing listed in Craigslist near my home and no notices were posted on the usual nearby utility poles. But when I ventured towards Ponce De Leon Ave. I found a sign that would then lead me to at least six other sales.

Briarcliff Terrace – Virginia Highlands “Yard Sales”

My first find was two sales directly across the street from one another. The first was a rather small sale where an older gentleman presided over an eclectic collection of clutter in his driveway. Here I found a selection f small framed art prints of old European scenes, plastic bags filled with gears and springs from old clocks, a fully set up two person tent and a suitcase filled with golf balls. On a table at the end of the drive was an array of nine wall clocks most of which were promotional items for pharmaceutical products. Among the drugs promoted on the timepieces were Paxil , Celexa and Lexapro.
I bought nothing.

Across the street was a larger sale arranged in a highly fastidious manner. The merchandise was so well arranged in this woman’s driveway and lawn that one dare not call it clutter. Everything was placed in a highly organized manner upon a series of well placed tabled and boxes. Even the stuff laying on tarps and carpets in the yard was neatly arrayed. Nearly all the smaller items were placed inside clear plastic bags that were properly labeled. On he first table I found a large selection of souvenirs and memorabilia related to the Master’s Golf Tournament (which was going on at this time). The Master’s is a Georgia event and golf is a popular sport but this collection of mugs, plates, balls and totes seems obsessive.
Another table held electronics and anther house wares. Boxes contained neatly arranged copies of Southern Living and medical journals. Even the boxes containing hundreds of Cds had them were placed neatly in rows. The sale was so fastidious that perhaps buyers were scared to root through the stuff and mess up the order. Near the back of the driveway were dozens of new boxes of bathroom fixtures. Above them taped to the wall was a prices list from their manufacturer. A buyer muttered to me as I appraised the quantity of the boxes “Why would anyone want that many towel racks?” In the yard I found framed prints and some original artwork and a washtub filled with water containing a large selection of floating plastic duckies.
I bought nothing but commended the seller on her fine arrangement of goods.

Materials from the Master's.

Floating duckies

Virginia Ave. – Virginia Highlands “Yard Sale”

This sale was a small event in front of an old apartment building here a young couple had put their unneeded collection of cute and bright retro items out in the street for someone to buy. I always look upon the sales of the young with delight as for many it is the first time they realize that no matter how interesting something seems at one time it will eventually become clutter in their life. Among their divestments were an orange 70’s telephone with an adjoining case for a telephone book, a bright red plastic hanging lamp, a large painting of a clipper ship, a large framed piece of embroidery, a Colecovision game unit, a jigsaw puzzle of an Amish scene, a Fox and the Hound lunch box and a large cat cage. The seller’s cat kept checking out the cage.
I bought nothing.

Retro goods on display.

Glen Arden Dr. – Morningside “Yard Sale”

This sale was disappointing. Here a man had lined his driveway with an uninteresting assortment of stuff that I had seen at nearly every yard sale in the past year. An old printer, disassembled ceiling fans, an old TV and wire storage racks. A few boxes of books yielded boring religious and self-help titles. But there was a copy of “Is there a Cow in Moscow”. This was the least memorable sale of the day. I bought nothing.

Noble Dr. – Morningside “Mega Sale”

This large sale was in the small backyard of a large Morningside home. A lot of the stuff here offered shape contrast. The initial object I encountered here was a large blowup print of a scene from Pulp Fiction. Next to it was a half dozen small psycadelic framed art works depicting day glo geometric shapes floating in strange alien landscapes. Next to these was a large Fauvist style painting of a cat looking at a bird in a cage. Scattered around the rear driveway were even more contrast, a large set of archery equipment including some deadly looking arrows, a box of old fireworks, a wet suit, a large tablecloth with a tie died peace symbol on it and one of those weird ugly ergonomic chairs from the early days of computer use that were impossible to sit in. Mixed in with all of this were perfectly mumdane stuff like a coffee maker, a lamp, tote bags and small candles. The media here was also contrasting. In a box of books I found an old Sidour, “The Zen of Zelda”, “Worse Than Watergate”, “Conspiranoia”, “Driven to Distraction and “Day Hikes in the Santa Fe Area” The collection of videos was stranger for here political conspiracy reigned. I found “From Ike to Mao”, “Invisible Ballots’ and “The truth and Lies of 9-11”
This whole scene was dominated by a massive sculpture of a menacing blue parrot that was not for sale.
I bought some candles to use with my Octomom art.

Used fireworks in Morningside.

Mind bending art.

Sherwood Ave. – Morningside “Yard Sale”

This final sale was small but interesting. There was not a lot in the yard or driveway of this small brick home. I first went to the back driveway where a single card table contained some brightly decorated Easter Eggs. When I approached a trio of Latino women were laughing hysterically at the eggs. The seller nor myself were not able to understand why the eggs had set off such a reaction. In the front yard I found an old Obama sign lying atop three newspapers with election headlines. Nearby were two very large action figures. One of which I recognized as Bruce Campbell’s character in “Evil Dead” (The chainsaw gave it away). Nearby was a college diploma from Oberlin College selling for $100,000. The seller admitted that this was a joke. But I had a feeling he was unhappy with what his BA from a private college had given him since graduation.
I bought nothing.

100 Grand Diploma.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring Break 2009

We took a short road trip to St. Petersburg last week. We spent Saturday driving so we missed the semitropical yard sale activity in the west Florida city. I did catch one sale on Sunday. While there we made a side trip to Tarpon Springs, the sponge capital of the USA. I was happy to see that upscale slick commercialism has not replaced the low-scale homespun commercialism in this tourist Mecca. Not one sign of Sponge Bob.

St. Pete “Yard sale”

We stopped here on Sunday on our way back from visiting the beach at Desoto State Park. In the midst of an official “Florida Certified Yard” we found an interesting collection of clutter mixed in with the foliage. Cindy was drawn to this sale since the signs said “free plant with purchase” Here I found numerous unopened boxes of plastic car wheel covers, unopened boxes containing inflatable children’s pools, a bird house, disorderly boxes of men and women’s clothing, coffee mugs and some old plumbing fixtures. All this was under a jungle like canopy of lush green plants, some of which were for sale. Cindy bought a plant to get a free plant. I bought nothing.

Clutter under a lush canopy.

The long ride home. Empty land and empty billboards.